07 May, 2016

Bedtime stories

Photos in our old house
Last night, my son crawled on my bed and studied the photographs on the wall behind it. They've been there for over a year, and hung in our living room in Colorado for his whole life before that, but something about them just now struck him.

I think that is a body, he said, pointing to the closest one.

Those are sand dunes, I replied, asking if he knew what a sand dune was, but I think it looks like a belly button.

I think it looks like a leg, he said, and a butt. He gazed at the other pictures intently. I could not have imagined what he was thinking. Most days, I think that Finn simply takes the world as it comes - everything is ordinary and the ordinary is wondrous. A few months ago, I took him to work with me and one of my nursing friends took him to our play room, where he played along side one of my patients. I thought he might have questions about her lack of hair or IV, but he never noticed. That is one way of describing what it is to be four years old. At 3 AM, he wonders if there might be a monster in the closet. That is another way.

He thought the Merzouga oasis looked "like a boat" and wondered how I managed to take pictures of the shadows of camels, as we were riding them in the Erg Chebbi, that drift of Sahara Desert in Morocco. I told him how the dunes were higher than our house, and how I watched the stars rise above the them, and listened to the sand crack and whip against the side of my tent all night long. I asked him what the word "desert" meant and we talked about the difference between camels and cacti, and he speculated that he might like to touch a cactus that had "soft pokeys" like feathers. I told him I would take him there when he gets bigger.

My photos are arranged in three rows of one, two and three frames each. They look like stairs, my son observed. When I get big, he said, I'll ride camels and take FOUR pictures, so you can climb higher. 

I turned off the lights, and we looked up at the glowing plastic stars that my sister put on the ceiling when she was a little girl in the same room. And then I told him a mostly true story about a little girl who got lost in a souk, ate camel burgers and lamb testicles, and eventually bought a flying carpet that came with a marriage proposal thrown in for free.

I don't know what the world looks like through his eyes, but I hope to see more of it with him every day.